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Baby girl who weighed under 1 pound at birth leaving Phoenix hospital

(Dignity Health Photo)

PHOENIX – A premature baby who weighed less than a pound at birth five months ago was on her way home from a Phoenix hospital for the first time Monday.

Kallie Bender weighed 370 grams (about 13 ounces) when she was born May 24, 15 weeks premature, at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, according to a press release.

“It was a relief to see her even though she was tiny and hooked up to all of these machines,” Kallie’s mom, Ebonie Bender, said in the release.

“But, she was here and with God on her side, Kallie Skye was ready to fight for her life.”

In addition to needing constant medical care to grow and gain weight, Kallie underwent surgery to repair a heart defect common among babies born so early. But unlike some “micro-preemies,” Kallie didn’t experience brain bleeds or blindness.

Ebonie’s pregnancy was high risk from the start because of her blood pressure. Six months in, an ultrasound showed that the baby was extremely small.

Doctors diagnosed a condition called absent end diastolic flow that caused a lack of fluid around the baby.

“Absent end diastolic flow occurs when the blood flow is reduced or reversed from the placenta to the unborn baby, preventing them from getting the nutrients they need,” Dr. Vinit Manuel, medical director of the St. Joseph’s Nursery Intensive Care Unit, said in the release. “This condition can affect the baby’s growth in utero and impact their lung and gastrointestinal development.”

The condition required the baby to be delivered without wait because of the reversed blood flow.

Ebonie and her husband, Dameon, couldn’t hold Kallie for the first time until 37 days after delivery.

The little girl continued passing milestones while getting stronger in the nursery intensive care unit, including taking a bottle for the first time, getting a bath in a “big girl” tub and fitting into newborn-sized clothes.

“Over the last few months, it was amazing to watch her grow and see how she would have been developing inside the womb,” Ebonie said. “I look at her pictures all the time because so much has changed in her features, size and personality.”

Kallie now weighs more than 7 pounds. She will still need an oxygen tank and feeding tube for a bit longer, but her next milestones will come while living at home.

“We are looking forward to having more independence and creating new memories as a family of five,” Ebonie said.

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